Title:
INFLATABLE SUPPORT
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An alternating pad comprises a first set and a second set of alternately inflatable cells. Both sets of inflatable cells are supplied with air from a pump via a rotary valve. A sensor is positioned under the pad to receive pressure exerted by a patient upon movement and to be compressible relative to the applied pressure. Any change in patient position or movement will cause an alteration in the airflow in the sensor pad tube and will reduce or increase the differential pressure measured at the pressure transducer. Based on this feedback the microprocessor directly controls the power level to the pump and increases or decreases the air flow to the cells to alter the amplitude of the cells and also controls the timing of the rotary valve to change the timing of the inflation and deflation cycle.



Inventors:
Roff, Simon Michael (Dunstable, GB)
Rowe, Christopher (Aylesbury, GB)
Application Number:
12/211507
Publication Date:
01/08/2009
Filing Date:
09/16/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
5/706
International Classes:
A47C27/10; A47C27/08
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CONLEY, FREDRICK C
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Intellectual Property Dept. (Madison, WI, US)
Claims:
1. A method for inflating an inflatable patient support pad, the method including the steps of: a. providing fluid to the pad; b. measuring the change in pressure in the pad over time to obtain measurement values representative of movements of the patient on the pad; c. adjusting the pressure in the pad in response to both: (1) the change in pressure in the pad, and (2) the time over which such changes occur.

2. The method of claim 1 wherein fluid is provided to the pad in accordance with a supply frequency, with fluid being cyclically supplied to and released from the pad.

3. The method of claim 2 wherein the step of adjusting the pressure in the pad includes adjusting the supply frequency.

4. The method of claim 1 wherein: a. fluid is provided to the pad in successive cycles, each cycle including: (1) a period over which fluid is supplied to the pad, and (2) a period over which fluid is released from the pad, with the successive cycles defining a supply frequency; b. the step of adjusting the pressure in the pad includes adjusting the supply frequency.

5. The method of claim 4 wherein the step of measuring the change in pressure in the pad over time includes measuring the count of pressure changes in the pad during at least the period over which fluid is supplied to the pad.

6. The method of claim 4 wherein the step of measuring the change in pressure in the pad over time includes measuring the count of pressure changes in the pad occurring at rates greater than the supply frequency.

7. The method of claim 6 wherein the step of adjusting the supply frequency includes: a. if the count of pressure changes in the pad is greater than a set value, decreasing the supply frequency; and b. if the count of pressure changes in the pad is less than a set value, increasing the supply frequency.

8. The method of claim 1 wherein: a. fluid is provided to the pad cyclically, with the cycles defining a supply frequency; b. changes in pressure in the pad are measured at a frequency higher than the supply frequency; and b. the pressure in the pad is adjusted by adjusting the supply frequency.

9. The method of claim 1 wherein: a. the pad includes two or more inflatable cells therein, and b. the step of providing fluid to the pad includes providing fluid to different ones of the cells at different times.

10. The method of claim 1 wherein: a. the pad includes two or more inflatable cells therein; b. the step of providing fluid to the pad includes providing fluid to different ones of the cells at different times; and c. the step of adjusting the pressure in the pad includes adjusting the times at which fluid is supplied to the different ones of the cells.

11. The method of claim 1 wherein the change in pressure in the pad over time is measured by a sensor situated beneath and outside of the pad.

12. A method for inflating an inflatable patient support pad, the pad having an inflatable cell therein, the method including the steps of: a. cyclically inflating the cell at a supply frequency; b. measuring the rate of patient movement atop the cell; and c. adjusting the supply frequency in response to the measured rate of patient movement.

13. The method of claim 12 wherein the step of measuring the rate of patient movement atop the cell includes measuring pressure changes within the cell.

14. The method of claim 13 wherein the step of adjusting the supply frequency is performed when the pressure changes measured within the cell occur at a rate substantially greater than the supply frequency.

15. The method of claim 12 wherein the step of measuring the rate of patient movement atop the cell includes measuring pressure changes within the cell occurring at a rate greater than the supply frequency.

16. The method of claim 12 wherein: a. the supply frequency is decreased if the rate of patient movement increases; and b. the supply frequency is increased if the rate of patent movement decreases.

17. The method of claim 12 wherein: a. the pad has two or more inflatable cells therein; b. different ones of the cells are inflated at different times; and c. the times at which the cells are inflated is varied in response to the measured rate of patient movement.

18. A method for inflating an inflatable patient support pad, the pad including an inflatable interior defined by two or more inflatable cells, wherein the method includes the steps of: a. inflating different cells at different times in accordance with a supply frequency, the supply frequency defining an inflation and/or deflation pattern for the cells; b. counting pressure changes within one or more of the cells over time; c. varying the supply frequency in response to the counted pressure changes.

19. The method of claim 18 wherein the step of varying the supply frequency in response to the counted pressure changes includes: a. if the count of pressure changes over time is greater than a set value, decreasing the supply frequency; and b. if the count of pressure changes over time is less than a set value, increasing the supply frequency.

20. The method of claim 18 wherein the supply frequency is varied in response to the counted pressure changes when the counted pressure changes occur at a rate substantially greater than the supply frequency.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/507,958 filed May 12, 2005, which is incorporated by reference herein.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to an inflatable support, in particular an inflatable support that measures the movements of a patient supported on the support and adjusts the support provided depending on the movements detected.

There have been several techniques developed to measure body movement, patient entry and patient exit from a support using fluctuations in air pressure in the inflatable supports or inflatable bodies inserted between the patient and a supporting surface. The technique of measuring body movements by recording the air pressure in an air filled pad placed under a mattress was described by Kusunoki (1985). Another system has been developed to measure the respiratory movements of subjects by measuring pressure changes in a supporting air mattress (Hernandez 1995). U.S. Pat. No. 6,036,660 describes a system that uses transducers to detect and display movement in an air-filled cell or cells between a patient and a support.

Overall, these systems give a numerical or visual display of detected movement using the fluctuation of static air in an enclosed cell or cells. As there is a link between the rate of spontaneous body movements and the risk of developing pressure sores (Exton-Smith et al, 1961), the information provided or displayed helps in the assessment of the risk of pressure sore development. The information can be used to increase the manual turning of the patient or to aid the decision to move the patient to another support surface. Equally, the information can be completely ignored in a busy ward.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The invention includes an inflatable support whose inflation and/or deflation regime is automatically controlled in dependence upon the movement of a patient on the support. In this way, patient comfort and pressure relief is automatically optimized without requiring external input from a carer or nurse.

Accordingly, the invention includes an inflatable support supplied with air from a pump by means of valve, a sensor positioned under the support to measure the movements of a patient on the support, and control means adjusting the inflation and/or deflation of the support by the pump in response to the measurement values from the sensor. Thus, where a patient is able to move by themselves on a regular basis on an inflatable mattress, the pressures at which the mattress is inflated can be adjusted to improve comfort without increasing the risk of pressure sore development.

In an alternating pressure mattress, there is a compromise between an effective alternating pressure cycle used to reduce the risk of pressure sore development and the comfort experienced by the patient. Preferably, the inflatable support is an alternating inflatable support and more preferably, the control means adjusts the inflation and/or deflation pressures and cycle times of the support in response to the measurement values from the sensor.

Therefore, where a patient is able to move by themselves on a regular basis on an alternating mattress, the inflation/deflation cycle parameters can be altered to improve comfort without increasing the risk of pressure sore development. For example, a device in accordance with the present invention can lengthen the cycle time to provide extra comfort for those patients who are making significant autonomous movements, or shorten the time for those patients that require more active pressure relief.

Preferably, a display of the patient movement is also provided. Many of the risk assessment tools (Waterlow, Norton & Braden) use movement as part of their scoring system and an accurate movement display assists nurses in selecting the correct support surface.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

An embodiment of the present invention is described below, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram of a support according to the invention;

FIG. 2 is a flow chart showing a control algorithm according to the invention; and

FIGS. 3a and 3b show displays of various body movements measured according to the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT(S)

Referring to FIG. 1, an alternating pad 1 is shown comprising a first set 11 and a second set 12 of alternately inflatable cells. Both sets of inflatable cells are supplied with air from a pump 6 via a rotary valve 7. A pair of air supply lines 14 lead from the rotary valve 7 to the pad 1.

A tube 10 of a sensor 8 is connected at one end to the output of the pump 6 and at the other end to a solenoid 44, pressure transducer 16 and a restrictor 15. The sensor 8 is positioned under the pad 1 to receive pressure exerted by a patient upon movement and to be compressible relative to the applied pressure.

In use, the pump 6 delivers air to the pad 1 by means of a rotary valve 7 so that each set of cells 11, 12 of the pad 1 is alternately inflated and deflated. A pressure transducer 5 is used to check the pressure of the output from the pump 6. The system operates on an inflation/deflation cycle repeating over periods varying from two minutes to over twenty minutes.

During the inflation cycle, the rotary valve 7 is in such a position that a portion of the flow goes via the tube 10 and the rest fills the cells 11 or 12 depending on the cycle. Any change in patient position or movement will cause an alteration in the airflow in the sensor pad tube 10 and will reduce or increase the differential pressure measured at the pressure transducer 16. Based on this feedback a microprocessor 20 directly controls the power level to pump 6 and therefore the compressor(s) C1, C2 pneumatic output, thus increasing or decreasing the air flow to the cells 11, 12 to alter the amplitude of the cells 11, 12 and control the timing of the rotary valve 7 to change the timing of the inflation and deflation cycle.

Sensor air flow through tube 10 is measured via the differential pressure across the restrictors 15. The differential pressure is measured by pressure transducer 16 by comparison to atmospheric pressure.

The pressure recordings at the exit of sensor 8, because of fluctuations in the air within the sensor 8, are measured and the movements analyzed, the control means or microprocessor 20 then controls the rotary valve 7, and thus the timing of the pressure cycle in response to the movements detected. Preferably, the detected movement values are also displayed on a display panel (see FIGS. 3a, 3b) on the pump 6.

As shown in FIGS. 3a and 3b, the pressure transducer 16 recordings can distinguish between the various types of movements, including large and small body movements, patient exit and patient location. A windowing technique is used to detect the various movement parameters.

The large body movements indicate a significant change in body position with a subsequent redistribution of body weight. If the large body movements are within normal levels, for example, one large movement every ten minutes, then the frequency of the flow cycle is reduced, increasing the comfort to the patient. The frequency is increased when there are no large body movements detected.

The patient exit is detected by sudden large changes in the pressure, or by comparison of the pressures between consecutive cycles.

Additionally, the pad 1 can be segmented into zones for a heel section, an upper leg section, a mid torso section, and a head section. The sections can be inflated at differing amplitudes for comfort and reduced risk of pressure sore development.

Although the particular embodiment described above relates to an alternating pressure pad 1, the invention applies equally to a static pressure pad with a sensor and further a pad having a zoned head, upper leg, torso and heel sections.

The pump 6 may use powered pulse width modulated (PWM) driven compressors as opposed to the mains alternating current driven compressors of the prior art. The microprocessor 20 creates the driving waveform for the compressors C1, C2 with variable mark space constant repetition rate and constant amplitude, so that the pump 6 is not dependent for performance on any particular mains voltage or frequency. Therefore, the pump 6 can be operated from the mains voltage of any country. The compressors output is varied by varying the PWM mark space ratio from zero to maximum.

The sensor 8 and microprocessor 20 can be used to display the number of times the patient has moved on the support and sound an alarm if the patient has not moved or initiate contact with a third party by means of conventional communications devices.